On the 18th January we celebrate the life and sacrifice of one of Black history’s most notable contributors, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Black History month, originally celebrated in January, began with the intention of helping to educate everyone about the history, successes, notable figures, contributions and experiences within the Black community. This month began as a way for the Black community to help keep alive a rich and diverse history and to help teach those within their own community who may not have had access to their own past.
The Start of Recognition
From humble beginnings as an unofficial celebration solely within black communities in America, to it becoming a Nationally recognised event known as ‘Negro History Week’ to now being an Internationally celebrated month, the brainchild of historian Carter G. Woodson and other African Americans has blossomed into something to greatly admire.
Observing BHM actually began in the US way back in 1915 and soon after other countries such as Canada, The Netherlands, Ireland and the UK followed suit, recognising its importance and its ability to provide a space and platform for its Black citizens to celebrate their history. This month aims to uplift Black voices and offer the community the opportunity to pay homage to the history that helped shape where Black people are today.
Have you ever taken an elevator? Ever opened a fridge? Used a hairbrush? Mowed your lawn? Well then, you’ve benefitted from the contributions of Black people! Black History Month is for everyone to enjoy and participate in. To help uplift Black voices and learn new things at the same time!
Martin Luther King Day was established in 1983 and is an American national holiday celebrated annually on the third Monday of January, around MLK’s birthday. The day celebrates the life, legacy and achievements of the great American hero and honours his efforts in advocating for racial justice for Black Americans and being a pioneer of the Civil Rights Movement. MLK helped end racial segregation and inspired a generation during and after him to understand the power both within themselves and in their own voices.
MLK’s perseverance and dedication to the cause in the face of deep opposition also garnered strong support from non-Black people who too believed in his message of freedom and equality and understood the power of support and that their position in society held value enough to help further the cause. It was because so many of so many kinds resonated with what MLK spoke that there was power in numbers with he and the thousands who marched alongside him to Washington in 1963 that helped change the course of American history and that is why we celebrate him today.
His work has resonated through the ages and is evident today with celebrations such as Black History Month.
Just like those who marched with MLK to Washington, whether Black or not, we can all learn something from Black History as we understand that it is national history and that we benefit from it one way or another. So, next time BHM and MLK Day roll around... let’s celebrate!